The Light That Leads Us Home

The Light That Leads Us Home

The following text is an excerpt from the recently released “The Light That Leads Us Home” booklet published by the Vineyard USA. “’Twas the night before Christmas…” the 19th century poem begins, and goes on to say, “…the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.” Saint Nicholas. Known in many countries for over a thousand years as Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Weihnachtsmann (“the Christmas Man”), and, of course, Santa Claus, the name of Saint Nicholas has become synonymous with the ideas of winter, generosity, festivity, presents, children, box stores, outrageous sales, and last, but not least – Christmas. A Generous Man Though legends abound, Nicholas was a real person who lived in the 4th century AD. Nikolaos of Myra, as he was known, was the Greek Bishop of that city (now known as Demre, part of modern day Turkey). Born on March 15, 270 in the port city of Patara (also in Turkey), he died on December 6, 343, and was the son of wealthy, Greek Christian parents. Nicholas grew up in a home full of faith, and after his parents died in an epidemic, he went on to become a priest, and later, a Bishop (a pastor of pastors). In his lifetime, Nicholas was respected for his acts of kindness and generosity. He was known especially for giving gifts in secret. It was said that he would put coins in the empty shoes of those who were poor when they left them out for him to see. Legends grew around this great man of faith into the story of...
Celebrating Christmas, the Invasion of History by the Creator God

Celebrating Christmas, the Invasion of History by the Creator God

Today we are celebrating Christmas, the invasion of human history by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Over this last month we have celebrated the Advent – the time in which the church celebrated both the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.  It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.  That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. In this double focus on past and future, Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a community of Jesus followers. We affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again. This acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s in-breaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is like Franciscan Father Richard Rohr once said: “We [believe] that the Incarnation was already the Redemption, because in Jesus’ birth God was already saying that it was good to be human, and God was on...
Love: An Advent Post

Love: An Advent Post

Love is interesting as a word because we use it so often (“I love this show, pizza, etc..”). It is also one of the most powerful things on the planet. Love is more powerful than fear, anger or revenge. There are tons of movies, shows, and songs sung about love. I would even say that most of the stories that have been passed down throughout the ages have deal with love, no matter what the culture or people group. Yet we still use the word loosely… Love Defined The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone. a great interest and pleasure in something. It is a word that can be both a noun and a verb. Or in different words, it is something that is both an emotion and a decision. An emotion as there are times when we have that intense feeling of affection; a decision because love is more than just emotions. When things get tough and relationships are hard, we don’t stop loving just because we lost an emotional feeling. There is a decision that keeps us going through the pain and rough parts of life. Joseph’s decision Speaking of decisions, have you ever thought about the decision Joseph had to make? Here was a man well liked by his community engaged to get married to the daughter of another well-known community member who had the reputation of following God. Then out of the blue his gal was found to be pregnant! At first everyone thought that he, Joseph, had slept with her. But instead...
2014 Hopping Family Newsletter

2014 Hopping Family Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family, Merry Christmas from Josh, Emily, J and introducing Baby Hopping – for the first time ever we have reached the 4-month mark of a pregnancy! Just a few months after our failed adoption this summer we found out that God had answered J’s frequent prayers for another baby in an unexpected way. After only 2 pregnancies in our whole 14 years of marriage – both of which ended within the first 2 months – we had given up on producing biological children and were happily growing our family through adoption (something that we still believe in strongly and hope to get to do again at some point in the future.) Then J learned how to pray and regularly prayed for God to bring us another baby (in addition to praying blessings for Andrew and his birth-mom who decided to parent) – the faith of a 4-year-old is pretty potent! Thank you all for your prayers as well – we have really appreciated them throughout 2014 as we have faced a lot of transitions and hard times! We spent this spring finding a new pastor for the Vineyard church in Sweet and getting our house ready to sell. God brought the perfect couple to take our place and the transition was complete and official on June 1, 2014. The house, however, has proven to be a bit tougher of a process – after only one showing since April we put it on the rent market as well as for sale, but we’ve only gotten 3 lookers total even after dropping our price several times. We’ve reconciled...